I seem to be in the business of heavy topics. Between my work as a nurse in a pediatric ICU and my marriage to a pastor, I get what can feel at times like too much of the inside scoop on the lesser known sufferings of many people, much of the time. This week in particular seemed to be the week of choice for a disproportionate amount of unpleasant news. A friend’s suicide. A bad code at work. Extra drama all around.
I also attended the annual Ethics of Caring Conference this week, geared primarily towards nurses, and while I deeply appreciate the courage that this group of people has to tackle the hard issues and reflect on them for a prolonged period of time, my internal response was conflicted. I needed to go there in a lot of ways, to remember that the ethical core of nursing has to do with caring deeply and persistently about situations and issues and people that many choose not to care about. It can be exhausting, but choosing the road of a hardened heart is certainly no better solution, at least not the one that I ultimately want for my life. Many speakers at the conference mentioned how the general public still doesn’t truly, fully grasp what a nurse does in the year 2013. We don’t just hold the patient’s hand, throw on an occasional blood pressure cuff, and deliver a small paper cup of pills, though that is part of our job description. We manage critical situations, enter into complicated conversations, and we clean up secretions, blood and sloughing bowels to try to preserve the dignity our patients. Maybe that’s why the public doesn’t really know what we do. Maybe they don’t always want to. Sometimes, we ourselves need to forget a little of it too.
I’m in the business of heavy topics, and quite honestly I seem to have a strange and morbid draw to them at times. But in weeks like this when I recognize the signs that a healthier sense of balance has been lost, I take a walk outside and remember that even still, this is the first lovely week of Spring, and the celebration of Easter, the resurrected Christ, is just around the corner. I went to water my somewhat neglected herbs only to see that my mint and lavender plants have grown and flourished despite me, and their resilience brings a comforting reassurance. My baby kicks me in my womb, and I marvel at the growth of this peanut who at nine weeks had only limb buds, but now has arms and legs and fingers with which she can jab and kick and punch. I feel the dryness of my soul, but then she kicks me again and I remember that where there once was no life in me, new life has begun and it grows over time, strong and sure. She reminds me that miracles still happen, and my mourning is turned into dancing again.